Say so long cellulite in just 8 weeks! Thought the dreaded orange peel was impossible to shift? Beauty guru Kate Shapland, who’s studied it for 25 years, shares revolutionary advice…
- Kate Shapland, 56, British founder of leg-care brand Legology promises results
- She talks a lot about ‘leg energy’, more like therapy than a beauty routine
- Beauty guru advises avoiding starch and sugar, body brushing and massage
Our approach to cellulite has become ‘much too narrow and negative’, says Kate Shapland, a woman who should know because she boasts she has been ‘fascinated by legs for 25 years’.
I confess that, having been afflicted with these unsightly dimples on my thighs since my 20s, I tend to take rather a gloomy view of them myself.
Desperate to get rid of them, I’ve starved myself on the Cabbage Soup Diet — which did nothing but leave me swearing I’d never touch the nasty stuff again — and slathered on more expensive creams than I care to remember.
And I am not alone: according to research half of British women hate their legs and one in nine won’t show them to their partner, which must make sex fairly complicated.
Femail’s Clover Stroud tries out the cellulite shifting plan from beauty guru Kate Shapland
So I’m curious about what Kate, the 56-year-old British founder of renowned leg-care brand Legology, promises is her new, less ‘negative’ way to reduce cellulite dramatically. And in just eight weeks.
She talks a lot about ‘leg energy’, making it sound more like therapy than a beauty routine. ‘It is possible to have a life when you are addressing cellulite! In fact, it’s essential!’ she rhapsodises. ‘My plan doesn’t dictate — it offers a way of thinking about nutrition, activity and product application together in an inclusive way that doesn’t overwhelm, become boring or take over.’
She also shows off before and after pictures from the plan’s volunteer testers around the world. Almost all noticed a significant reduction in puffiness around smaller thighs.
Cellulite is an oddly emotive subject among my friends. Just recently Jane, a successful businesswoman with three children under seven and —usually — no lack of confidence, admitted she was planning to wear a wetsuit on the beach during the heatwave to avoid putting her cellulite on show.
Kate Shapland, 56, British founder of leg-care brand Legology promises results
As for myself, at 5ft 6in, I’m not tall, but I’ve always dreamed of having long, lithe limbs. I’m now 45 but was still a teenager when I noticed dimples on my legs; I remember dancing around behind a towel on a Cornwall beach trying to hide orange peel upper thighs.
Kate is sympathetic. ‘I’m familiar with the uncomfortable heaviness associated with fluid retention,’ she says, recalling how long-haul flights, dancing and warm weather used to leave her with visibly puffy legs during her days as a beauty journalist.
She doesn’t like me comparing my thighs to ‘orange peel’, though: ‘Cellulite never, ever looks as even as orange peel!’ she says. ‘Whoever came up with that analogy just did not know what cellulite is.’
The good news from my perspective is that cellulite is not, as people tend to think, about being overweight. ‘The actual condition is a build-up of fluid around fat cells, not fat itself,’ Kate explains. ‘This happens because the lymph, the body’s waste disposal network, has not metabolised that waste efficiently. It’s a whole body issue. You need to address it in a whole lifestyle way.’
The lymph system is also impacted by hormones, particularly progesterone and oestrogen, which is why cellulite can become more obvious in women during puberty, menopause and pregnancy.
So, what does a ‘whole lifestyle’ attack on cellulite look like? This is where I start to get nervous. Kate’s description of what she has christened the Cellu-Lite Challenge sounds somewhat intimidating.
Clover’s legs before the treatment (left) and after eight weeks (right) appearing more toned
Every summer, Clover Stroud hid her pins – until she went to the UK clinic of France’s top ‘leg doctor’…with miraculous result
She explains the main reason for a sluggish lymph system is a sedentary lifestyle, so I’ll be embarking on an exercise regime, for starters. I’ll need to hit 10,000 steps a day as well as exercise at least two to three times a week.
Kate goes on: ‘What you eat is absolutely key. Processed food, starch and sugar gives cellulite a passport to develop, because these foods are hydrophilic —they encourage the body to hold on to fluid. Protein, meanwhile, encourages the body to expel fluid. A diet high in protein, with carbohydrates from vegetables and plenty of water, is a killer combination.’
She insists these are ‘tweaks’ rather than a diet — but it means no starchy carbs, almost no alcohol and feels to me like a total overhaul.
Then there’s daily body brushing and deep massage, with a range of her own creams (formulated for her by a French chemist) and gadgets (including a stiff-bristled brush and a bizarre suction cup device).
How on earth, I wonder, am I going to fit it all in around working from home and keeping five children entertained all through the summer holidays? Some mornings, I only just manage to brush my teeth.
Legology suction cup (left) and Cellu-Lite oil (right) which Clover got as part of her subscription to the plan
Help is at hand, because when I subscribe to the plan, as well as being sent the various lotions and potions I’ll need, I’m given access to a community of other women doing the same thing. Some of them, I soon learn, are really, really into it.
You pay £99.60 a month for access to the plan, plus a monthly delivery of the Air-Lite cream and Cellu-Lite oil. Adding in the Legology body brush and suction cup Kate recommends I use, an eight-week Legology subscription will set you back £224.40.
After eight weeks, if you want to keep going, Legology recommends switching to a cheaper maintenance option: £52.91 a month for the plan and top-ups of the products.
It’s a steep commitment. But I’ll give anything a go . . .
Weight: 10 st 13 lb
Upper-thigh measurement: 29 in
I kick off with daily body brushing using Kate’s special, stiff-bristled round wooden brush to stimulate the lymph, followed by massaging my calves and thighs in hard, circular motions with a product called Air-Lite: Daily Lift For Legs.
This thick cream contains caffeine — a common ingredient in anti-cellulite products, thought to dilate blood vessels and improve the look of dimples. There’s also centella asiatica leaf extract, ruscus aculeatus root and lemon peel extract, which, in theory, tone and tighten the skin.
‘It smells exactly like orange ice cream in here,’ says my daughter Evangeline, seven, as I lean against the bath massaging my legs.
My legs look pink and a little shocked after I’ve given them, my underarms, bum and tummy a brisk brushing. But the massage that comes next is soothing as I press deeply, working upwards from my knees to thighs, then circling my ankles, as if I’m pushing water through a tube.
‘The cream combined with massage will enhance lymph flow,’ Kate says. It’s the most attention my legs have got from me in a long time.
But if the massage is quite pleasurable, the weekly food shop makes my mind boggle.
My family’s favourite macaroni cheese is off the list and replaced with protein-rich lean meat, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds. I’d assumed a low-calorie diet would be best at banishing cellulite, but Kate says it can make things worse as low-calorie is often low-protein, too.
Beyond protein, the bulk of my diet should be ‘diuretic’ veg —cucumber, carrots, ginger and garlic. Exercise is obligatory — as a starting point, 10,000 steps a day. If, that is, I have time with all that brushing, massaging and oiling.
Clover’s legs before the treatment. After the treatment she was left with legs smoother and leaner than they have been in years
Weight: 10 st 10 lb
Upper-thigh measurement: 28.5 in
I’m flipping an oat bran pancake with more than a hint of self-pity. I’m supposed to eat some bran every day, and Kate has suggested I mix it with egg white and fromage frais, then fry it. ‘Oat bran is integral to the diet as it’s sustaining and rich in protein and fibre.’ She describes it as acting like ‘flypaper in the intestine’, taking away the undesirable stuff.
While this all sounds fine in theory, the practice is less successful. ‘Yuk, that looks absolutely disgusting,’ says my son Dash, six. Agreeing, I throw the ‘pancakes’ in the bin and instead sprinkle some bran on top of plain yoghurt, which is a boring breakfast, but not revolting.
By lunchtime, a few handfuls of leaves and a strip of smoked salmon definitely don’t make me feel full, especially when the rest of my family are scoffing ham and cheese toasties. But I manage to avoid white bread and pasta, swapping it for brown rice and pulses. We’ve started eating more meat, since most evenings I’m so hungry that what I really crave is a steak.
My husband, a natural carnivore, is delighted. And I drink gallons of tea and coffee, with skimmed milk, of course, while saving the odd glass of wine or two for the weekends. Kate had advised that the plan works best with no alcohol, but concedes that the odd treat is fine.
On the other hand, I’m relieved to learn that keeping to the recommended 10,000 steps a day isn’t that hard when you’re running after children. Inspired, I also force myself on a 20-minute run a couple of times a week, and swim once a week in the bracing River Thames near my home in Oxfordshire.
WEEKS 3 & 4
Weight: 10 st 9 lb
Upper-thigh measurement: 28 in
‘What on earth are you doing now?’ says my long-suffering husband when he finds me lying on my back on our bedroom floor, feet pressed against the wall.
He had got used to me spending extra time in the shower, endlessly brushing and pummelling my thighs and calves, but now Kate has told me to give my lymph an extra boost by elevating my legs to increase blood flow (lifting them above your heart stops blood pooling in the lower legs and encourages circulation).
I’ve noticed my legs seem most puffy and ‘heavy’ when I first get up, so I add this to my morning routine. ‘Cellulite is not about fat, it’s about flow,’ say Kate.
For targeted attacks on cellulite when it’s at its worst, such as when it’s hot, or after a night out, Kate has also given me Cellu-Lite oil, scented with rosemary, juniper and pine. This must be massaged into the legs using a Circu-Lite (right), a small rubber suction cup you push against your legs, boosting deep drainage.
During the heatwave, I’m definitely feeling the effects so I start using the Circu-Lite each morning, too. It’s a little fiddly, especially combined with the slippery oil, but as long as I don’t have an audience of my three younger children staring at me, I’ve started to enjoy sitting on the bath working on my skin. And my legs definitely feel different.
WEEKS 5 & 6
Weight: 10 st 7 lb
Upper-thigh measurement: 27.5 in
I’VE been struggling with the diet side of things, but with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in greater abundance, I sigh with relief, and whip up smoothies using skimmed milk, which I jealously guard from my children.
Kate says: ‘Dark fruit like berries is excellent because it’s a good antioxidant source; melon, apricots, oranges, peaches — fruits that are more than 80 per cent water — help to flush the system.
‘But remember too that fruit can be high in sugar. The most important thing is the way you eat comes easily, otherwise you stop doing it.’
So I also allow myself the occasional banana, which is high in potassium, a natural diuretic. Sometimes, for speed and convenience, I admit I cheat — one night I had the pasta sauce I’d made for the kids with a big plate of steamed vegetables and potatoes, which are not strictly allowed, rather than make something separate for myself.
But I’ve found a way to resist sugary treats: if the kids are tucking into ice cream, I make my excuses and retreat to the bathroom to give my thighs a quick brush, which I am finding oddly addictive.
And, drumroll please, by week five, I’ve noticed a real difference on the back of my thighs, which are smoother than they have been for a long time. As the heatwave continues, I even pull out a pair of shorts from the back of my cupboard that I haven’t been able to fit into since my 30s.
WEEKS 7 & 8
Weight: 10 st 6 lb
Upper-thigh measurement: 27.5 in
My cream, oil and massage routine has become second nature and I honestly look forward to the cool, tingling sensation as the best part of my morning. ‘Not more body brushing?’ my husband says as I hog the shower, yet again. But my legs really feel, as Kate said they might, ‘livelier’.
I’ve also exercised more than I might otherwise have done, mostly brisk walking and swimming in the river near my house — Kate encourages aerobic activity that targets areas prone to cellulite like the hips and bum.
As for the ‘nutritional tweaks’ (diet), well I can’t deny it’s been tough at times.
The fact my vegetable garden was obliging with lots of fresh food made it less arduous than it might have been in late winter, when in-season carby parsnips and turnips are what my veg box usually throws out.
My legs are smoother and leaner than they have been in years. My cellulite has massively reduced, to the extent I no longer feel self-conscious about it and happily wear shorts and little dresses.
It hasn’t quite vanished, which surely would take some kind of witchcraft, but the dimpling really has almost gone. And the measuring tape bears that out. I can’t believe I’ve lost an inch and a half from each thigh.
Would I really spend £224 for the privilege? It’s a shocking number. But honestly, as a one-time thing, it was worth it for the results. I’ve used the products quite sparingly, so I’ve got enough left over to see me through the start of the ‘maintenance phase’.
My next challenge? How to fit my new routine around the school run in September.
- Legology.co.uk. Products also available at next.co.uk, Space NK and cultbeauty.co.uk
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